Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A used Buick SUV is filling up at a gas station.

Before You Buy…. (Do This!)

Since any used car for sale can come in a wide variety of value. Just because you find a car at a very low price does not mean that you should purchase it. Likewise, just because you’ve found well maintained 1985 Camaro being sold for $37,500, does not mean that it is a good deal. Price is irrelevant when it comes to judging a car; instead, you need to research each vehicle that interests you to gain a better understanding of if you are getting a good deal or not. Thankfully, the modern era has allowed us to research any car we find on the side of the road with a mini-computer that we keep in our pocket.

Whenever you find a car that sparks joy in you, there are a few things that you are going to want to research about it prior to handing over your hard-earned cash. The first thing you are going to want to do is to go over the entire car to make sure that it is in good shape. From there, browse the internet to see if there are any manufacturer recalls or if others have run into some problems with the vehicle. Finally, to make sure that you are getting a fair deal, you should see how much the car is selling for on other car websites. Only once you have followed all of these steps can you make the decision to purchase the car with confidence. When you purchase a car with confidence, you’re able to enjoy your purchase with a smile on your face for years to come.

Give It A Once Over

The first and most obvious thing that you want to do when approaching a new car is to look over the vehicle from top to bottom, inside and out. You want to look out for rust, missing parts and any other signs of neglect. While some degree of rust can be acceptable, consider the history of the vehicle and where it’s spent most of its life. A car with a healthy amount of rust that spent its life in Nevada would be more suspect than a car with a healthy amount of rust in New England.

Every consumer can judge light body damage based on their own current situation. Most of us don’t mind the odd bump or bruise if it knocks a couple of bucks off of the selling price. If you feel that your car is an extension of yourself, and want your vehicle to be unblemished, take the time to look up close and personal with any potential vehicles. If you see one blemish too many, you know it’s time to see your other options.

The acceptable amount of neglect that you see in a vehicle is directly proportional to the type of vehicle you are trying to buy. In the market for a five thousand dollar minivan? One would hope that you’d be happy to exchange some physical beauty for mechanical stability. On the other hand, if you’re fortunate enough to buy a used car that is only a few years old, would you really want to deal with an eyesore of a repair? (Or the uncertainty?) No, you’d expect a fairly pristine car that has a detailed history. Likewise, if you plan on purchasing a used Yukon, you might want it flawless, or you might want it as cheap as you can get it. It ultimately comes down to the consumers budget and mechanical aptitude.

Check The Facts And Opinions

When it comes to researching your potential used car for sale, you can never do enough research. The more you know, the greater satisfaction you’ll get from your purchase. If you’re purchasing your vehicle at a dealership, now is your time to ask questions and get clarity on any issues that you need explained in greater detail. Any used car dealership worth your patronage will be more than happy to work at your pace. If you want to see things like a carfax or proof of maintenance, a dealership is your best bet. If attempting to purchase a vehicle in a private sale, you do not have access to any such resources.

The best thing you can ever do when purchasing a new vehicle is to bring a more experienced, impartial assistant with you to look over the car with you. While someone with a mechanical background would be ideal, simply having another person on your side will help you see a lot of things that you might have missed before. Whether you just have a friend that just “likes cars” or you’re willing to throw your mechanic a couple of bucks for the trouble when you have a third party inspect a potential purchase, you gain more insight on what exactly you can expect when you bring the vehicle into your garage. The more insight you have, the more confident you can be in your purchase.

A man gets info from a salesman while looking at used cars for sale.

The Price is Right?

So you’ve gone over the car with a buddy, and you’ve inspected every element of the car. You like what you see, but you can’t be sure that the car is selling for a fair price. The first place to check would be Kelly Blue Book. This website is the gold standard when it comes to figuring out a fair price. Other websites like Edmunds and competitor dealerships can also provide you with some insight on a fair price. Just make sure that when comparing models, you are looking at two identical trim levels. If you see a much cheaper Honda Accord advertised across the street, any large discrepancy in price could probably be attributed a difference in features.

A more expensive model is more likely to have luxuries like power windows, Bluetooth, and cruise control. If you’re able to find a fair and comparable vehicle at a lower price, give the dealership a chance to salvage the sale. You never know what kind of awesome perks you can receive when you have a dealership genuinely trying to build a lifelong relationship with you. When you think you’ve come to a fair price, have the exact model you want in front of you, and you like everything else about the car, you can pull the cord and make the purchase. Congratulations, you’ve done your homework, and you’re now ready to enjoy your vehicle for years to come. Hard work pays off!

Drive Home

There you have it! Just because you see an attractive vehicle for a low price on the side of the road does not mean that you should purchase it, no questions asked. We’ve gone over the various methods you can take to ensure that you get a good deal. Use the computer in your pocket and reach out to those in your network prior to handing over any cash or checks. When you take the time to ensure that you are getting a fair deal, you’re able to enjoy your vehicles for years to come. When you don’t have to stress over your vehicle, you’re able to live life to the fullest.